Exercising the triceps and chest muscles isn’t just for muscle-bound men looking to build their pecs and bulk up their arms. Women can also benefit from working the chest and triceps, and no, you won’t end up looking bulky like a bodybuilder. Using basic tricep and chest exercises can help improve your posture, firm your arms and have a shapelier upper-body.
Back to Basics
The best beginner workout for the chest muscles is the most basic exercise of them all – pushups. Pushups are great for beginners because you can adjust the resistance. For instance, light resistance is achieved by starting on your hands and knees. As you become stronger, you can transition to a full pushup on your hands and toes. Proper form is crucial when doing pushups. Keep your back as straight as possible, and start by putting your hands on the floor slightly wider than shoulder width. What’s great about pushups is that the closer you move your hands together on the floor, the more the exercise works your triceps. So, you can workout your triceps and chest muscles at the same time – this is why pushups are referred to as a compound exercise.
Dumbbells are another great tool for beginners. Work the chest muscles by lying flat on a weight bench with a set of dumbbells. Use a weight that you can handle without straining yourself. Lift your arms in a bench press motion, making sure to push up hard and bring the weights down slowly. It’s key to keep control of the dumbbells at all times to avoid injury. Work your tricep muscles using lighter dumbbells than you used for the bench press – about 10 percent of the weight. Do one arm at a time. Stand with straight posture and good balance with the dumbbell held straight up over your head. Slowly lower the weight behind your head while using your off-hand to balance your elbow. Do both arms. After you get the hang of it, increase or decrease the weight until you can do 12 to 15 repetitions with the last three to five of them burning your muscles a bit. These are called overhead tricep extensions.
As a beginner, exercising each muscle group once per week is enough to tone your muscles without bulking up. Do a total of three to five sets of 12 to 15 reps for both the triceps and chest muscles. For example, do three sets of pushups followed by two sets of the dumbbell bench press for a total of five sets working the chest. Likewise, do two sets of close-hand pushups and three sets of overhead tricep extensions to work the tricep muscles.
Listen to Your Body
You should feel your muscles burning as you do any type of resistance training. This simply means your muscles are breaking down and subsequently getting stronger and toned. However, it’s not normal to experience pain during a workout. This is why it’s important to start off by using light dumbbells and basic pushups on your hands and knees. Work your way up from there over a period of weeks; just be patient.
Joseph Eitel has written for a variety of respected online publications since 2006 including the Developer Shed Network and Huddle.net. He has dedicated his life to researching and writing about diet, nutrition and exercise. Eitel's health blog, PromoteHealth.info, has become an authority in the healthy-living niche. He graduated with honors from Kellogg Community College in 2010 with an Associate of Applied Science.